Eighty-two-year-old film director and marketing guru Herschell Gordon Lewis lives well. He's made millions from his books (like Sales Letters That Sizzle) and enjoys unending notoriety from his movies (such as Wizards of Gore). He lives in a magnificent condo on Fort Lauderdale beach overlooking the Atlantic. A Beethoven lover and former board member of the late Florida Philharmonic, the man displays impeccable taste.
But that doesn't mean he's above getting grease on his fingers come dinnertime.
"I'm the world's number-one authority on fried chicken," he boasts, a claim he's made again and again. Wisely, he adds: "Though nobody makes better fried chicken than my wife." But her special formula, which takes half a day to prepare, has never been revealed.
That's OK, because Lewis remains a fast-food connoisseur. "You will often find me at Bojangles or Popeyes or one of those places," he confesses.
And through his cinematic ouvre, fried chicken's been a constant companion:
When Lewis made The Gruesome Twosome in 1967 (see trailer, above), the nation's biggest chicken chain was still Kentucky Frying the old-fashioned way -- all day, every day. They offered to cater the entire production, promising cast and crew 100 drumsticks, wings, breasts, and thighs if the brand was featured in the film. And it was. Coke and Marlboro were prominently placed too, but a sorority sleepover with a bucket of the Colonel's finest was tops. Especially with the nightgowns and the dancing:
Colonel Harland Sanders himself wanted to make a cameo in Lewis' next picture, The Blast Off Girls, in exchange for feeding the filmmaker his favorite food.
Sanders' efforts did not qualify him for an Academy Award, though his goatee was nominated: